Spuds MacKenzie is a fictional dog character created for use in an extensive advertising campaign marketing Bud Light beer in the late 1980s. The Spuds MacKenzie mascot and campaign were created by a 23-year-old art director, Jon Moore. At the time he was working at Needham, Harper & Steers, a Chicago, Illinois, advertising agency. The dog first showed up in a Bud Light Super Bowl XXI ad in 1987. During the height of his popularity, large amounts of Spuds merchandise was available, such as plush toys and t-shirts.
The dog, a Bull Terrier, was not without its share of controversy. Shortly after Spuds' rise to fame it was learned that the dog, who was portrayed as male in the commercials, was actually female. The ads were also the subject of attacks and calls for censorship by temperance-oriented groups. Soon after the ads were first aired in 1987, Senator Strom Thurmond began his own media campaign, claiming that the beer maker was using Spuds to appeal to children for the purpose of getting them interested in their product at an early age. By Christmas 1987, more legal action resulted from Budweiser's use of ads featuring Spuds dressed as Santa, which is illegal in states such as Ohio.
In 1989, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, alleged that Anheuser-Busch was pitching the dog to children. Although the Federal Trade Commission found no evidence to support that allegation, Anheuser-Busch decided to retire Spuds in 1989, partly because they felt the character's image had started to overshadow the product.
The character appeared in Bud Light's advertisement in Super Bowl LI as a ghost helping a man named Brian reunite with his friends in an homage to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The house number in this advertisement's last segment is 1989, paying homage to the year Spuds was retired.
The dog's real name was Honey Tree Evil Eye (October 7, 1983 – May 31, 1993). She was from Malvern, Pennsylvania, but moved to Warsaw, Indiana at a very young age. She died of renal failure in North Riverside, Illinois.
- The character Slurms MacKenzie (“The Original Party Worm”) from the television series Futurama is a parody of Spuds, as is Santa's Little Helper’s stint as “Suds McDuff” on the episode "Old Yeller Belly" of The Simpsons.
- In his late-1980s anti-“sellout” anthem, “This Note's for You” (the title of which parodies Budweiser’s “This Bud's for You” ad campaign), Neil Young says he “ain't singing for Spuds” in the title track. The dog also appears throughout the music video for the song.
- The commercial's use of skinny females as a standard of beauty inspired Sir Mix-a-Lot to write "Baby Got Back" in retort.
- An issue of MAD Magazine in the late 1980s had a study of how cultural standards are going downhill, as one example, tracing how America's favorite dog went from Lassie to Benji to Spuds MacKenzie.
- A story arc in the comic strip Bloom County involved a drunken Spuds admitting her female gender to Opus and eventually checking into the Betty Ford Center, where she roomed with Mr. Ed.
- Appears in the Family Guy episodes "Brian Writes a Bestseller" and "A Fish Out of Water".
- Tone Lōc's song "Funky Cold Medina" lists Spuds McKenzie as one of the dogs trying to get into his house.
- In The Golden Girls episode "Larceny and Old Lace", Sophia Petrillo is dating a man named Rocco (played by Mickey Rooney), whom she met in a police lineup. According to her daughter Dorothy Zbornak, Rocco was arrested for "spray-painting something obscene" on a billboard of Spuds MacKenzie. Sophia's response is that because "the dog they use in those ads is really a female, Rocco was just making Spuds anatomically correct".
- "Spuds McKenzie: Official Party Animal". Bull Terrier Club of Dallas. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
- Eric Zorn (1987-09-13). "Eric Zorn. Spuds Is A Dud As A Party Guy -he`s A Girl. Chicago Tribune. (Posted: September 13, 1987)". Articles.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Teetotaler Thurmond Raps Spuds McKenzie". Associated Press. 13 November 1987. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- "Spuds Can't Promote Beer Dressed as Santa". Associated Press. 2 December 1987. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- Taylor, Kate (February 2, 2017). "Bud Light is bringing back a controversial mascot who once helped sales soar 20%". Business Insider.
- "Honey Tree "Spuds" Mackenzie". Find A Grave.
- Rabin, Nathan. "Sir Mix-A-Lot Interview". AV Club. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- "The Golden Girls (1985) s03e21 Episode Script". Springfield! Springfield!. Retrieved 25 September 2016.